Professors Mills, Williams Speak on Place-Based Legal Education

Professors Monte Mills and Martha WilliamsMargery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic Co-Director Professor Monte Mills' and Land Use & Natural Resources Clinic Co-Director Professor Martha Williams' presentation on "place-based" legal education drew an enthusiastic response at the Northwest Clinical Law Conference held at Warm Springs, Oregon, in early October. Against the high desert backdrop of Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs reservation, the presentation, "Place as Community: Fostering a 'Sense of Place' in Clinic," challenged participants to foster an understanding of the meaning of place and to incorporate the value of a sense of place in their clinics and in their teaching.

"We work with students in clinic who seek to forge a legal career in natural resources, environmental, or American Indian law," observed Professor Mills. "To be an effective advocate and attorney in each of these fields, a lawyer must at least understand, if not appreciate, the role that place plays in informing both law and policy, as well as the values, beliefs, and culture of his or her client."

Professor Williams added that "such an understanding is particularly important to effective conservation work and when working with and for Indian tribes and their members, for whom a connection to place is often central to existence. At a broader level, the ability of our students, as future legal leaders, to craft solutions from our common sense of place or at least a common respect for our individual sense of a shared place may ultimately determine their success."

Themed "Clinics and Community," the conference drew two dozen attendees from the Northwest region. The Blewett School of Law will host the 2017 gathering.